Years ago, I was waiting at the Le Meridian hotel, Kochi to interview one of the guests who had come to participate in a conference. All the while, there was a man with nondescript features sitting beside me, giving occasional smiles. Other than smiling back at him, I did not attempt to ask his role in the conference. If I had asked, I would not have missed one of the best stories – the story of the ‘ Sanitary Man’ – Arunachalam Muruganantham .
It was this feeling of ‘ sheer loss’ that made me go for Twinkle Khanna’s second book, but first work of fiction – The legend of Lakshmi Prasad as one of her stories in the book featured him.
Speaking about the book, the author’s intention was good. The ideas were perfect, but unfortunately, it failed to strike the right chord. To be precise, the tempo of emotions were fluctuating.
For instance, the first story, after which the book was named talk at length on women empowerment and how a young girl made an entire village stand up for women’s rights. But even after the story ended on a positive note, the reader was left wanting for that single spark of revolution. Though feminism was the all pervading element in the story, sadly it could not be felt.
With least expectation when you move on to the second one – ‘Salaam, Noni Appa’, there comes a barrage of emotions which could leave you longing for many things. This one was my favourite – a beautiful story of two Ismail sisters straight from the heart. It talks about a woman in her sixties who found love at the fag-end of her life.
When the tempo of your expectation was at its zenith, the author takes us to a dark story - the story of a Malayali woman who did not have a goal of her own. Contrary to the author’s claim “ Here lies Eliza, she briefly belongs to many, but truly to herself, I think the woman just went with the flow of life. Though belonged to a privileged family, she did not even raise a finger to straighten out the mess, she had made of her life.There exist many people like Elisa. But I am just wondering how her lack of commitment and running away from life could be regarded as finding herself.
The story of the Sanitary man was the longest and last in the list. Sadly to say, there are many areas in the story which made the book a little dragging which was otherwise a light read. Long and short, I felt the stories were short of emotions.
Most of the time, the narration had shifted to a non- fiction mode. The systematic style – intro, content and conclusion squashed the creativity out of them. If the author had not rushed and shifted to a more creative style, all these stories could have been beautiful.
Though intermittently, her streak of humour popped its head in the story, she was trying hard to shackle them. If she had unleashed it, the stories would have left an indelible impact on the readers. ( That's just opinion)for I believe when thinks presented with humour can hit the bull's eye.
But I think I like the book primarily for Noni Appa’s story and also that I did not leave it half – way.